Sausage, lentil and roasted vegetable bake

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Everyone is a sausage fan in our house, and yet again, we’re getting on board with cosy, autumnal, comfort food. We’re fortunate the kids also both like lentils (we eased them into eating them by pretending they were squashed peas!), and with all the veg included, this a pretty nutritious dinner.

You will need:

  • 8, good quality pork sausages
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into small chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways, then cut into small chunks
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 500ml reduced-salt beef stock
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 400g green lentils in water, drained and rinsed

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.
  2. Put the sausages in an ovenproof baking dish. Add the oil and turn the sausages to coat.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes before adding all the vegetables and garlic. Return to the oven to cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Mix the hot stock with the mustard and pour over the sausages and vegetables along with the lentils, then stir everything together.
  5. Cover carefully with foil and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, taking the foil off for the final 10 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately! Great on its own or with crusty bread and butter!

 

Trainspotting

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Prior to having children, I never gave trains, or public transport for that matter, a moment’s thought. Except perhaps for the irritatingly regular grumble that my commute was delayed by a late-running service, or that we were all crammed in like cattle. Fast forward nearly 4 years, and I am amused by just how much trains have become a big part of our lives, all because of one small boy with a BIG passion.

Living where we live in South-East London, there aren’t many tubes, just very regular overground services to access other parts of The Big Smoke. As a result, we travel on them several times a week to visit attractions, parks and friends, and both Freddie and Sasha are travel pros. The look on Freddie’s face when we pass a station, or even better, that a station is a junction, and therefore has many platforms, buffers and the like, really is one to behold. It lights up like candles on a cake, and never fails to make me smile!

Freddie’s interest in trains began from the moment he could crawl confidently and push a train, or other vehicle, around the floor. This progressed to absolutely loving a simple wooden figure-of-eight train track we bought him for Christmas aged 22 months. A lucky purchase from a charity shop of an enormous bag of wooden track and accessories followed, and the boy was totally hooked! We have expanded this collection over the last couple of years, and it’s one of the few toys that I don’t actually mind adding to, it gets played with so much.

Due to Freddie’s obsession, trains really have become our new ‘normal’. If you’d have asked me 4 years ago if I would know nearly every train line in South London and all their stations and stops, would spent ages watching You Tube videos of trains on the Ipad and construct train tracks that would make a professional engineer proud, I would have laughed. And then laughed some more.

This is truly ones of the pleasures of having children- you will never know until they arrive what they will love, what their interests will be, what brings their little hearts so much joy on a daily basis, no matter how much you try and imagine, and that makes parenthood all the more exciting.

I have a new-found respect for my own Mum, who spent HOURS of her weekends standing in wet, muddy fields watching me ride in competitions, because it was my passion. It sure as hell wasn’t hers, but she was so supportive.

So despite not quite having the same desire for trains as my son, it’s definitely now a little part of everyday life that we share. My brain has certainly made way for trivial facts about trains, more than likely at the expense of other grey matter and other things that probably aren’t as important as thoughts about trains.

Love in our family is standing on a bridge at Beckenham Junction train station, and spending half an hour just waiting and watching the fast train to Ramsgate speed on by, or see the local-service to Victoria slowly pull in.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. :-)

Linking up with Mummy, Daddy, Me and The Ordinary Moments

Life in London: Buildings of Kensington & Belgravia

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One of the things I love most about living in London, is that visually, it really is a fascinating place to be. If I’m not looking where I’m going in the street, it’s not due to playing on my phone, but because I’m looking up at some of the incredible architecture we have in our great city. I adore the juxtaposition of the different buildings, what era they were built in, and what they are used for.

In an area of London perceived as being only for the wealthy, nothing highlights this contrast more than the picture I took the other day. Social housing, with the Stella McCartney store, a prime example of this area’s wealth, seemingly out of place in its location below.

Making the most of a small child napping in a buggy, I walked from here to Victoria Station, snapping as I went. I’ve really become more interested in photographing buildings of late, I’m not entirely sure why. Possibly the contrast in them that I mentioned above. I think maybe I like the shapes they make, and the way London has been ‘put together’ over the years.

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The range of buildings is fanastic for an architcture lover- from old Georgian townhouses, to quaint mews cottages on cobbled streets, from jarring 60/70s buildings to art deco delights: the range is vast.

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Next time you’re hitting the pavements, wherever you are, I implore you to look up and around you – you never know what you might see!

x

30 Day Re-use & Recycle Wardrobe Challenge – Day 15!

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Studded billowy blouse – TopShop, Jeans – Zara, Biker boots – New Look, Bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs

For original challenge rules, please click HERE!

The Natural History Museum, & a stroll through Kensington

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Yesterday Sasha, my Mum, and I, ventured ‘Up West’ (in true Eastenders style), to visit the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. We go to the Science Museum quite often, but haven’t been to the NHM for a really long time, in fact, the last time I went was just before Freddie was born! I also thought it would be nice to go somewhere a bit different with S, as this was one of the last days I will spend with her where it’s just us two (I’m starting a new, part time social media manager role after the half term break). I really miss Freddie when he’s at preschool, but really enjoy the 1-2-1 time with my little lady too, so whilst I’m excited about my job, it’s kinda bittersweet. Luckily she’ll be with my Mum, before starting a few hours of preschool a few days a week come new year. Anyway, I’ve digressed! Another reason I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum with Sasha is because she is really into dinosaurs! Even more so than Freddie, who can take or leave them, S will often roam around the house pretending to be a T-Rex (or similar).

After a tedious trip on a really slow train, we arrived later than expected, so decided to check out the museum’s main restaurant. Now, I’m no pessimist, but I often expect cafes/eateries in big, touristy places like this to be,well, a bit overpriced and rubbish. But on this occasion I was WRONG! We arrived early (11.40am) so were seated straight away at a spacious table in the spankingly clean restaurant, and our food came promptly. HINT: Arrive before midday to avoid queues, by 12.10 one was building, and a wait isn’t ideal with a small person in tow. Ok, so it’s not cheap to eat here (27 quid for the 3 of us, with drinks), but the food was really, REALLY good. 2 butternut squash and goats cheese salads were demolished by Mum and I, and I’m quite fussy when it comes to eating salads out, because loads are really insipid. Sasha’s fish fingers and chips were homemade, and came with a side of peas, and her fruit salad portion was huge, everything eaten- result!

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^^Having a think, whilst having a drink!

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^^We were given the standard set of crayons on arrival- S always makes my Mum draw hippos, we have no idea why!

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^^So good to spend time with my baby girl. Both her and Freddie are dreams to take out and about- I just wish they were like that at home more!

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^^After lunch we finally got to see some dino-action! Sasha wasn’t sure what to make of the huge dinosaur in the main entrance hall, and kept requesting “small dinosaurs, please”, but she eventually came round!

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^^These were the dinosaurs that really fascinated madam. She’s a bit young really to get that excited over skeletons and fossils, but these life-like moving dinosaur models had her hooked- she asked to go back and look again, although was a tad wary, they are so realistic!

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^^Some decent dinosaur impressions happening here :-)

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^^We were going to explore some of the other areas of the museum, like the human body, bugs and insects and animal sections, but I think the dinos (and a 5.45am start) wore this little one out! I’ve never seen her nod off so quickly when placed in the buggy, so Mum and I decided to call it a day and take a stroll back to Victoria Station. If you’ve got 40 minutes to kill and the weather is ok, it’s definitely worth bypassing the ball-ache of the tube (especially if you have a buggy and a child needing a nap), and walking.

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^^This is one of the best bakeries, right near South Kensington tube. We didn’t buy anything today, but I could go MAD in here, the tasty cakes, pastries and breads on offer are to die for!

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^^We stopped at the iconic old Michelin Building (now Bidendum’s) in Kensington on the way back for coffee and green tea (not together, that would be weird), whilst S slept. There is a lovely, semi-open air cafe at the bottom of the building, and makes you feel quite glam! Whilst I could definitely get used to being a lady who lunches (why didn’t I make the most of my 6 weeks of maternity leave pre-Freddie arriving?!), I don’t think I could ever be a Sloane Ranger! The area is lovely, but all a bit posh for me!

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^^The most beautiful florist on the way back to Victoria.

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^^What I love about Kensington and Belgravia, is that although the vision of it you have is one of grandeur, it’s actually a fascinating mix of stereo-typically rich, and the often forgotten poorer-end of the scale. This shows in the buildings here, and is partly the subject of a new post of mine within the next few days. I love photographing architecture, so am looking forward to showing you some of the surprising aspects and interesting abodes of the wealthy corner of London.

Have you been to The Natural History Museum before?

Or come across anywhere that has surprised you in London?

I’m always on the lookout for new places to check out!

x

So…I’m a Butlins Ambassador!

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Back in June, one blogger (i.e me), drank too much free wine at a blogging conference. This in turn led to some friendly banter with a Butlins PR, which then led me hazily to picking up an Ambassador application form, whereby post-hangover I actually filled out said-form and popped it in the post the old-fashioned way. Little did I know, that fast forward one month, and an email would land in my inbox congratulating me on being accepted as one of 10 blogging ambassadors out of hundreds of applications!

Some wonderful and surreal things have happened to me since I’ve dipped my toes into the blogging world about a year ago, and this is certainly up there with the best of them. You see, pre that vino-filled trip to the Butlins stand, I’m not going to lie- you couldn’t have paid me to go on a ‘holiday’ to where my inner-snob assumed would be a ‘Heidi-Hi’-esque hell-hole. BUT, having picked up that application form and accompanying brochure, and perusing at leisure one sunny Sunday in the garden, I actually felt a weird sensation inside that I never would have associated with the ‘dreaded B’ before: Excitement!

Flicking through the pages, and seeing my inner ‘mum’ waving goodbye for the time-being to far flung trips of old, was like a holidaymaker re-birth. My mind instead was racing, imagining the smalls enjoying all the activities and facilities Butlins has to offer- toddler football, character shows, swimming and the fairground to name but a few. You see, when you become a parent, your idea of what constitutes a great holiday changes slightly. Sure, you’d always like to fly 10 hours to lie on a beach, read endless books and drinks copious amounts of rum, but HELLO, REAL WORLD CALLING- you have a 2 and a 3 year old now! Since the former scenario is unlikely to happen for a good while, Adam and I made a pact to embrace breaks closer to home that keep our tiny twosome happy and occupied, and stress at a minimum. Ones where we can ALL try new shizz, relax as a family and be entertained.

Which is why I’m so glad I popped that application form in the post.

Judging purely from the brochure so far, Butlins certainly seems to fit my ideal family holiday bill <insert smiley face here>. Gone is the “Morning, Campers!” mentality of old, and very much like my idea of a good trip, Butlins seem to have had a jolly good re-think too. New, smart accommodation choices, swish facilities (Defo eyeing up the Spas for moi), and more activities for preschoolers and toddlers than you can shake a stick at. I’m therefore unshakably optimistic that we are going to be impressed when we partake in the first of our two holidays next week; on this occasion we are heading to the Bognor Regis resort, where we have a Gold Apartment waiting for us.

Which is where my job comes in. With my Ambassador hat on, I aim to report back on how these trips were, what there is to do, the things we enjoyed and the things that we think could be done better- all with typical SPJ honesty and frankness!

Butlins Ambassador

As Ambassadors, we are very lucky to receive the following:

  • 1 x 3 night weekend or 4 night midweek break to be taken in the school holidays.
  • 1 x 3 night weekend or 4 night midweek break to be taken in the school term time.
  • Dining package (breakfast and dinner) for our stay on both of the breaks.
  • Up to 6 people per family to visit per break (3 generational holidays are encouraged- we are taking my Mum on one break, and my in-laws on the other!).

There are 3 resorts to choose from- Bognor, Minehead and Skegness. We have chosen to take our trips to Bognor and Minehead, but it’s definitely worth checking out the other lovely blogger ambassadors and their experiences, so you can decide which resort might fit the bill for you and your family:

JamesDaddy Space
EmilyA Mummy Too
JessOur Baby Blog
KatherineMummy Pink Wellies
EmmaEmma & 3
HannahA New Addition
Exciting times! I will be back later on this week with the planning of our break to Bognor- what we’re looking forward to there, and also what there is to do in the local area.
So, Butlins, we’re coming to get you- watch this space!